Avoid Rather Than Fight

Black Belt - - COMBATIVES - by Kelly McCann

For years, I’ve used the term “self-of­fense” to pro­mul­gate the no­tion that self-de­fense is a mis­nomer, that de­fend­ing — by its very na­ture — is at best de­lay­ing an inevitable loss. To con­vince a preda­tor to stop, you have to at­tack him and make him un­der­stand that he’s at equal risk of sus­tain­ing se­ri­ous in­jury.

This is as true in com­bat sports as it is in �ight­ing. When at­tack­ing op­po­nents meet noth­ing but blocks and eva­sive move­ment, they won’t be com­pelled to stop at­tack­ing. Why should they be? They’re at no risk of be­ing knocked out or hurt, so in­stead of stop­ping their at­tack and step­ping back, they press for­ward, sens­ing that the end is near. And they’re usu­ally not wrong.

If you think about it, self-de­fense is ac­tu­ally a bet­ter term for all the things you do or should do be­fore the man­i­fes­ta­tion of vi­o­lence. It’s do­ing all the things that are nec­es­sary to achieve the high­est like­li­hood of avoid­ing the �ight. SELF-DE­FENSE IS car­ry­ing a le­gal weapon at all times. It should be a weapon that, when cir­cum­stances make you think of it or touch it, acts as a trig­ger to re­mind you to leave the area, to re­move your­self from the sit­u­a­tion. Do that and you might get away with­out hav­ing to use the weapon.

Self-de­fense is mak­ing sound per­sonal-se­cu­rity de­ci­sions with re­gard to where you park, where you choose to go and when you choose to go there. It also en­com­passes where you sit in pub­lic, where you stand on pub­lic trans­porta­tion, which ATMs you use and scores of other de­ci­sions that aren’t con­scious de­ci­sions at all for those who are likely to be vic­tim­ized.

Pro�il­ing peo­ple around you for pos­si­ble weapons — look­ing at belt lines, check­ing pocket rims for knife clips, dis­cern­ing the lo­ca­tion of hands and be­ing alert to the ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of cloth­ing that might be in­tended to con­ceal — are all ex­am­ples of self-de­fense.

This cat­e­gory of smart be­hav­ior ap­plies even more when you’re on the road: care­fully con­trol­ling your itin­er­ary, choos­ing your ho­tels wisely, pur­chas­ing and us­ing a por­ta­ble lock to aug­ment the lock on your ho­tel door, and us­ing apps such as Red­Zone Map, which shows what crimes have oc­curred in an area and how you can avoid trou­ble spots. SIT­U­A­TIONAL AWARE­NESS is a huge part of self-de­fense. The �irst step to up­ping yours is know­ing what the com­po­nents of sit­u­a­tional aware­ness are. It’s more than hav­ing your head on a swivel. In my book Com­bat­ives for Street Sur­vival, I wrote: “Sit­u­a­tional aware­ness is a cu­mu­la­tive alert­ness to threat, en­vi­ron­ment, move­ment and anom­alies. Be­ing able to dis­cern sub­tle pre-in­ci­dent in­di­ca­tors is re­ferred to as ‘at­tack recog­ni­tion’ skill.”

At­tack recog­ni­tion doesn’t mean be­ing para­noid or over­re­act­ing to just any stim­u­lus. The term de­scribes some­thing that should be­come sec­ond na­ture. Prac­tic­ing good at­tack recog­ni­tion doesn’t mean furtively look­ing for bad guys around ev­ery cor­ner. In fact, �in­d­ing any one pre-in­ci­dent in­di­ca­tor is likely noth­ing. If you pick up two, how­ever, pay at­ten­tion. Three or more, and the sit­u­a­tion de­serves your com­plete at­ten­tion.

In the pre-de­ploy­ment cour­ses I teach to mil­i­tary and gov­ern­ment per­son­nel headed to high-risk en­vi­ron­ments, I de�ine pre-in­ci­dent in­di­ca­tors as “un­likely cir­cum­stances that, col­lec­tively, in­di­cate an at­tack could be im­mi­nent.” SELF- OF­FENSE, on the other hand, is the phys­i­cal com­po­nent of pro­tect­ing your­self. Once vi­o­lence man­i­fests — some­times slowly and some­times sud­denly — you sim­ply must en­gage at a level that breaks the mo­men­tum of the at­tack in progress.

And yes, to ac­com­plish that ef­fec­tively, you must ap­ply the com­bat­ives prin­ci­ple of si­mul­tane­ity, which refers to re­main­ing able to pro­tect your­self from strikes while you strike back. Make no mis­take about it: Fight­ing to pro­tect your­self in­cludes at­tack­ing the at­tacker.

In an age when it’s con­sid­ered tact­less or undiplo­matic to ask a vic­tim, “What did you do that may have con­trib­uted to be­ing at­tacked?” it’s hard to change be­hav­ior for the bet­ter. Nowa­days, too many peo­ple in­cor­rectly as­sume that the po­lice can cre­ate a safe en­vi­ron­ment in which they don’t have to be espe­cially watch­ful and don’t have to pro­tect them­selves. This is a ridicu­lous no­tion if for no other rea­son than bad guys don’t be­have badly when po­lice are present.

We all have a per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity to do these things as part of our self­de­fense so we never have to re­sort to self- of­fense. For in­for­ma­tion about Kelly McCann’s new­est com­bat­ives cour­ses, which can be streamed any­time, any­where to your dig­i­tal de­vice, visit aim�it­ness­net work.com/black­belt.

Make no mis­take about it: Fight­ing to pro­tect your­self in­cludes at­tack­ing the at­tacker.

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